The good governance agenda and urban governance : the case of Dhaka, Bangladesh : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy (Arts) in Development Studies at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
This thesis argues that the good governance agenda has reached an impasse in Dhaka due to the absence of political will and commitment. The current status of the good governance agenda, its advocates and opponents, after ten years of advancement as a prerequisite for poverty alleviation is investigated as well as its connection to the more recent phenomenon of urban governance. Urban governance on the one hand is used to describe urban actors and their relationships and on the other to describe the management of urban centres. Using Dhaka, Bangladesh as a case study, the thesis highlights that the two descriptions are very much connected since actors and their relationships, in the context of Bengali culture and accepted behavioural norms, influence the outcome of urban management issues, such as the provision of basic services and infrastructure. While there is little evidence that good governance does in fact lead to poverty alleviation, multilateral and bilateral donors and numerous NGOs, encouraged by the amount of funding available, are pursuing strategies to improve the governance situation in Dhaka. However, the current state of governance and the entrenched norms greatly affect the outcome which is emphasised through an examination of a number of current projects and programmes. Development practitioners, especially donors, are only now beginning to acknowledge the importance and influence of culture and politics on development policy, programme and project outcomes. However, direct attempts to modify culture and politics will undoubtedly lead to criticisms of interference in sovereignty issues. It is suggested that the good governance agenda has reached an impasse until there is a demonstration of political will and commitment for achieving good governance from the Government of Bangladesh, civil society and donors. The Government because as elected representatives they have power to change legislation, provide leadership nationwide and set a context for improvements; civil society because their attitudes and actions can either reinforce the current societal norms or challenge them; and donors because their own political and strategic agendas should help and not hinder development.